Autism not only contributes to the mental anguish of
the patient's family, but is also associated with a huge economic burden to the
family and state. Therefore, policy makers should take this aspect into account
while taking decisions regarding this neurodevelopmental problem.
appears in children due to a problem with brain
development. The children experience difficulty in communication. They remain
withdrawn and have problems with social interaction. They follow repetitive
behaviors and do not like to be disturbed during the activities. A significant
number of cases are associated with intellectual
Autism does not have a cure. Mild cases may lead a near
normal life. More severe cases need support throughout life and various
therapies that could possibly help to improve the condition of the children.
Some of the therapies used in autism include auditory integration therapy,
sensory integration therapy, play therapy and music
Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the
University of Pennsylvania and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have
highlighted the severe financial stress
that is associated with the treatment of autism. In their study published in
JAMA Pediatrics, they found that lifetime costs to support a child with autism
without intellectual disability is $1.4 million in the United States and the
United Kingdom. The costs are significantly higher for those with intellectual
disability - $2.4 million in the United States and $2.2 million in the United
The costs mentioned in the study are not only those
directly related with the treatment of the patient, but also associated with
other costs like non-medical services, employment support and loss of productivity
in adulthood as well as that of the parents. Economists from Penn and the
London School of Economics were also a part of the study.
The study thus gives food for thought to policy
makers to allocate resources appropriately for the management of autism
patients. The researchers also suggest that enacting policies to ensure that
the parents work life is not affected will go a long way in managing the
financial impact on the patients and their families.